Broadway shut down March 12, with Off-Broadway theatres following suit over the next several days. Initially announced for one month, the shutdown has now lasted six, leaving millions of arts workers unemployed and uncertain of when they will be able to safely return to work.
But one constant has been The Actors Fund. In the immediate aftermath of Governor Cuomo's decision to shutter theatres, the national human services organization—which is for everyone in performing arts and entertainment, whether they appear on stage, on camera, or work behind the scenes—sprang into action.
Since March 18, The Actors Fund has distributed more than $15 million to nearly 13,000 people through 14 different funds. Those numbers equate to more than eight times the number of people normally helped in a year, and more than seven times the amount of money typically distributed in a year.
But their work has not been limited to just fundraising. During this time of uncertainty and the increased support of Black Lives Matter across the industry, the Fund has organized new groups, including Mind Body Spirit: A Group for Black Women in Entertainment; Healing with The Actors Fund for Black-Identified Entertainment Professionals; Healing with The Actors Fund for Non-Black POC in Entertainment; Black Entertainment Professionals Town Hall; Looking Ahead Young Black Male Support Group. And there have been workshops on topics ranging from how to job search during the pandemic to getting and keeping affordable insurance.
Thanks to the generosity of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Health Services department was able to add six new team members to help arts workers navigate benefits, as The Actors Fund, in partnership with Mount Sinai Doctors, continued to operate The Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.
And there are plenty of ways you can give back without monetary donations. Follow The Actors Fund on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and share their posts and updates; post the COVID-19 Resources page to make sure everyone who might need it knows about it; and take a few moments during the day to write a digital note to a senior at The Actors Fund Home.
Even as the pandemic continues, the Fund looks to the future with its November 2 virtual gala honoring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick; Dance Theatre of Harlem's Artistic Director Virginia Johnson; AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka; producer and co-owner of the New York Football Giants Steve Tisch; and Chairman of The Actors Fund Brian Stokes Mitchell. For details, visit www.actorsfund.org/Gala2020.